1 Out Of 15 Ain't Bad

Fooled you, of course the Raptors 1-15 start this season is terrible, but I couldn't think of a better title. Because Herohill has Raptors season tickets, we try to give our hoops-mad readers some first hand Raptors insight. But we've been slacking on the Raptors posts this season. But with the way the season has started for the Raps, I'm sure you can understand why: there hasn't been much good/interesting to write about. If you wanted to read negative stories about the Raps terrible start, you'd be at the Toronto Star website. But you're here, and the NBA season is almost 1/4 in, so I thought it was time to post some observations of the Raptors season so far.

The fans like this team. At all the games I've seen this year, the fans have been eager to cheer for this squad. The Raps complete lack of defence and streaky shooting have drastically reduced cheering opportunities, but I don't think the fans have given up on them. I think it's mainly because they like the Raps young players. It is impossible to not like Chris Bosh. He's crazy talented, is getting better every year, has a neck like a seven foot mongoose, and seems like one of the nicest guys going. The fans also seem to have gotten behind the three rookies as well, so they're at least hopeful about the future.

The rookies can play. Everyone knew the Raptors would be young this year, but no one knew how effective those young players would be at the NBA level. Charlie Villaneuva has surprised everyone. The much-maligned 7th pick in the draft has proven to me a much more complete player than anyone thought. He has great hands, nice touch around the basket, deep shooting range, is hairless, and is a good passer. He has a ways to go on the defensive end, but looks like he's going to be a quality player. Joey Graham has been solid. He's been aggressive and is fearless going to the net, so when he gets a little more comfortable, he'll be a load. Jose Calderon is this season's more skilled, Spanish, Matt Bonner. The fans love the guy, probably more so than his play warrants, but he's been decent at the point in his first year after coming over from Spain. Once he improves the matador defence he brought with him, he could be a decent floor leader.

The Raps need a one on one scorer. To win consistently in the NBA, you need a guy on your team that can create something when things break down. Defence is played at such a high level in the NBA, that on a large number of your possessions, you are going to need a go to guy who can take the ball and either beat his man one on one, get fouled, or get an open look for someone else. This is especially crucial at the end of games, and is one reason the Raps have lost so many close ones so far. The other night against the Mavs, they were up 6 with 2 minutes left, but Dirk scored the next 8 points and put the Mavs in the lead. Chris Bosh isn’t at that level yet, so it’s being left to guys like Mike James, and that’s a lot to ask from a guy who started his career in Austria and is playing on his 6th NBA team.

Jalen and Mo Pete want out. Badly. I’m not saying these guys aren’t trying, but they’ve both played awful this year and I think it’s best for these guys and the Raps if they move on. Jalen could be counted on last year to score at least 15 a night and was usually clutch down the stretch. This year he couldn’t throw it in the ocean, or even a huge lake someone thought was the ocean. Mo Pete is his usual inconsistent self, except now his shooting seems worse than ever and he’s taking more wild shots than frat boys in Cancun. I think the last couple years of suckiness have worn these dudes down. Whether they admit it or not, they’re dying to get traded, and it’s affecting their game.

Matt Bonner is more one dimensional than Pong. Bonner is strictly a tall dude that can shoot. Teams know this now, so any time he gets the ball by the 3 pt line, they run at him and force him to put it on the floor. More times than not, this means trouble. The man known as The Red Rocket (as an aside, does anyone realize that Bonner is as un-rocketlike as it gets in the NBA?) usually makes an ill-advised pass that leads to a turnover or forces an ugly shot. To make matters worse, his outside shooting hasn’t been as good, resulting in a ten point drop in his shooting percentage. Long story short, if Bonner doesn’t start shooting better, he’ll find himself preparing those Mr. Sub, er, subs, that he loves so much.

Loren Woods is a waste of a giant set of bones. Seriously, the guy is 7’2 and softer than cashmere. This guy would get pushed around in the WNBA. Both this year and last, Loren has gone from the opening day starter at center to being bolted to the bench. Not sure if he realizes it, but there’s not very many co-ordinated seven-foot-plus people on the planet. He’s reasonably athletic, and although he’s so skinny he makes Bosh look like Lou Ferrigno, a little aggression would probably make him an effective player. As it stands now, I’d be surprised if he remains an NBA player when his contract expires.

Hoffa is skinnier, but still pretty crap. Without a doubt, Rafael Araujo, is the current whipping boy for Raptors fans. Every game I hear countless people around me yelling at Hoffa to tell him the various ways in which he sucks. A lot of these people know nothing about hoops, but they know (or have been told) that Hoffa sucks. I can’t really disagree, but I never join in on the Hoffa bashing. For starters, Herohill sits in the upper deck, and I’m not sure if people realize it, but no one on the floor can hear you from up there unless your voice has a megaphone setting. Also, jeering Hoffa has become a cliché now, it’s far too easy. It’s like going to wrestling in the 80’s and booing The Iron Shiek or Nikolai Volkov. By all accounts Hoffa has done nothing but work hard and try to get better. Really not his fault Babcock made a huge reach and drafted him at 8 when he should’ve gone much later. I’m not incredibly optimistic, but hopefully we’ll see some Hoffa improvement by the end of this season.

Well there you have it, some Raptors thoughts so far from the hill. Hopefully you won’t have to wait as long to get more Raptors content from us this season.

@ 2:19 PM, foon kicked the following game:

i think you raps fans need to have some patience because with some hard work and a little luck you'll be as good as the knicks in a few years ..... hahaha. i almost kept a straight face for that entire sentence. well at least you guys have some potential and are not quadruple the salary cap. maybe isiah can come in, get rid of everyone on the team and fill it with over-priced hasbeens.


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